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Bring Feminism to Wall Street Now: A Statement and Flyer

October 25, 2011
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The following statement was written for a flier by the Feminism Now Podcast Group in NYC.  Becca Wilkerson and myself, Kathy Miriam, collaborated on the writing. Becca did the bulk of the work, and I revised, added, subtracted.  Announcements of our first podcast on feminism and OWS will be forthcoming! The purpose of the flier was to distribute at OWS and what ended up happening was that we used the flier as simultaneous teaching and talking points when interviewing women on the site. Feel free to use and adapt this flier for your own needs!  The flier will be prettied up with graphic and better formatting soon!

Bring Feminism to Occupy Wall Street!

We will only truly know that a different world is possible when we know what this world now truly looks like. First, neoliberal capitalism is the source of “corporate greed,” and neoliberal capitalism is also patriarchal to the core.

The Man-cession is a Myth; the Reality is . . .

It’s true that men suffered 70% of the job loss during the Dec 2007 to June 2009 downturn [1] but the facts of the ‘recovery’ (June 2009 to September 2011) tell a clearer story. The unemployment rate for women has increased from 7.7 percent to 8.1 percent while for men it has dropped from 9.9 percent to 8.8 percent. [2]  Women-headed households have about one-half the income and less than one-third the wealth of other American households; and further, women are 35 times more likely to be poor than men. [3]

The Capitalist System Depends on Women’s Unpaid Work

“Austerity” measures (e.g. Obama-administration’s spending-cuts) loot the public sector (education, health care, human services, government) while bailing out the private corporate sector (Wall Street). Women are hardest hit both as workers in the public sector (teachers; nurses) who lose their jobs and as unpaid caretakers who take up the slack when social services are lost. Global capitalism is made possible by women’s unpaid care-taking of dependents as well as of healthy adult men. In the U.S. among ages 25 to 34, women spend about twice as many hours per week (31.7) doing unpaid household work as men (15.8). [4] In Canada unpaid work is estimated to be worth up to 41% of the GDP. [5]  The shifting of the burden of domestic labor from elite women to the domestic laborers (maids) culled from subordinate groups of women (immigrants; women of color; poor women) is another part of this same process of exploitation.

The Capitalist System Depends on Controlling Women’s Reproduction

The reproduction of capitalism’s work force is a large part of women’s unpaid work.  Attacks on women’s ability to control when and whether to give birth [6] increases women’s economic dependence on men, the state, corporations and white elites, all of which, in turn, directly benefit from controlling women’s reproduction.

Women of Color are Hit Hardest by Predatory Lending

Deregulation of the market has lead to decades of preying upon the most vulnerable populations, with women of color being the worst impacted.  Women are 32 percent more likely than men to receive sub‑prime mortgages and black and Latina women borrowers are the most likely to receive sub‑prime loans at every income level. [7]

Domestic Violence Intensifies in Unstable Economy

In an effort to save money, the city council of Topeka, Kansas recently voted to repeal the law that makes domestic violence a crime! Minimal resources meant to help protect women are being sacrificed when domestic violence is actually worsening. Rates and severity of domestic violence increase in times of economic struggle. Financial strain often compels women to stay in abusive relationships. Women whose male partners experience two or more periods of unemployment in a five year period are 3 times more likely to experience abuse. [8]

Economic Exploitation and Destruction of the Environment go Hand in Hand 

Women’s reproductive organs are particularly vulnerable to damage from environmental toxins, endangering them and the children they may bear because of under-regulated corporations that value money over life.

Women’s Bodies are Part of the Battlefield of War

Due to women’s position as unpaid primary-caretakers, they are the social glue of communities strategically destroyed by military rapes. Sexual harassment and rape of U.S female soldiers by their male counterparts is figured at staggering rates. [9] Militarism is fueled by hyper-masculinism, the latter stoked by soldier’s prolific use of pornography [10] and the establishment of the sex trade at military bases around the world. [11] Women and children are the overwhelming majority of refugees displaced by war.

Sex Trafficking is a Reality for Women in Poverty

“Trafficking occurs in a context of global economic inequalities and a failure to respect the human rights of a majority of the world’s population. Enormous amounts of people find themselves unable to provide for their families and are forced into situations of extreme desperation. The impact of structural adjustment policies is worsening the feminization of poverty; women make up 70% of the worlds’ poor. Women are more vulnerable to exploitation as they are often supporting families, work in unregulated sectors of the economy, have little or no access to education, employment and options for migration. They are often seeking to migrate due to war and internal conflict, poverty, statelessness and domestic violence, but face strict immigration policies and are unable to migrate legally. Often their vulnerability is exploited and they fall into the hands of traffickers.” [12]

FeminismNOWOWS

Occupy Patriarchy


1. Calculations from U.S Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

2,  National Women’s Law Center, http://www.nwlc.org/

3.  Women of Color Slammed by Economic crisis, http://www.alternet.org/

4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, American Time Use Survey http://stats.bls.gov/opub/ted/2009/ted_20090806.htm

5.  United Nations Platform for Action Committee, Women & The Economy http://www.unpac.ca/economy/unpaidwork.html#3

6.  Reproductive Rights Steadily Eroded in the States, http://www.now.org/issues/abortion/031704states.html

7.  Ibid.

8.  National Institute of Justice, Concentrated Disadvantage, Economic Distress, and Violence Against Women in Intimate Relationships (2004), http://

http://www.nij.gov/nij/topics/crime/intimate-partner-violence/economic-distress.htm

10.  Benedict, “Why Soldiers Rape,”  http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/3848/

11.  Read anything by Cynthia Enloe for information about and analysis of this point.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. October 26, 2011 3:14 pm

    Hi, great work and thanks for doing it. Points I’d like to see raised re Occupy Patriarchy are the connection with women’s autonomy and freedom – reproductive rights and choices, control of our destiny in all ways, and how that relates to solidarity/cooperation. Psychiatric forced hospitalization and forced drugging/electroshock put women under the control of the state via a service industry whose workers have a conflict of interest and either adopt the agenda of social control or get drummed out of the profession. Women living on SSI and SSD can’t afford market housing, and find themselves in mental health housing where they might (or might not) receive supports they need but also are under the scrutiny of workers who are liable to have them locked up if they start remembering and getting angry about trauma. Also lesbians and other women living without men, especially those who choose to live in ways that actively resist patriarchy, are still more likely to be impoverished and to have less access to social and economic resources.

  2. October 26, 2011 6:34 pm

    Women and girls are the third largest commodity on the black market due to sex traffickers and it’s growing. After guns and drugs women are sold into sexual slavery at an astonishing rate that is growing even in North America. A blind eye has been turned to this modern day slavery for far too long.

  3. kmiriam permalink
    October 28, 2011 9:47 am

    GREAT comments Tina and CA Freeb. Absolutely, CA sexual slavery is a definite focus of my work. Do you have any source for this one third stat??? it would be soooo helpful.

    Tina, Have you considered writing a short piece about any or all of these issues? I will definitely incorporate them –or most of them–when I get around to writing a longer statement–or co-writing it–based on the flier.

  4. October 29, 2011 12:39 pm

    Has this been made into a PDF flier? I feel like I am missing something.

    Thanks.

  5. kmiriam permalink
    October 29, 2011 1:22 pm

    womononajourney- No, not yet. You can turn it into one though. I have a pdf flier but it’s not as complete as this one. If you want it let me know. Where can I post it?

  6. November 9, 2011 8:26 pm

    Hi KMiriam –

    I work full time on anti-psychiatric abuse issues and ended up feeling burned out re Occupy, just spending too much time looking at what everyone is doing. If you want my input on a flyer just let me know. I created a Facebook page Occupy Mental Health/Occupy Psychiatry as a space where people can talk about this.

    I see the Occupy Psychiatry/ anti-psychiatric abuse aspect as being very congruent with safer spaces and Occupy Patriarchy. Similar issues of oppression and potential violence within the movement (e.g. using forced psychiatry against someone in the belief that it’s not really violent or not equivalent to giving someone up to state repressive forces etc.), as well as issues that get left off the agenda.

    I’m following this blog and thank you so much for doing it.

    In solidarity,

    Tina

Trackbacks

  1. Writing Feminist Flyers For Occupy–More Resources « Occupy Patriarchy
  2. Feminism, Occupy, and Sexual Violence

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